I think I mentioned before that I’ve been looking up allergy information on websites for restaurants before going to eat there to prevent from having to ask a million and one questions. Recently, I’ve found myself randomly looking up the information for some restaurants in town that I’ve purposefully avoided. Now this is pretty much for franchise restaurants that aren’t just local. The websites for some of the local places I’ve looked up aren’t showing any allergen information at all.
One night a couple of weeks ago I was doing some random lookups and P.F. Chang’s happened to be one. I’ve done some fried rice from our favorite Chinese restaurant, but I knew it was risky so I stopped. I thought it couldn’t hurt to just look, right. Lo’ and behold, they have a specific gluten-free menu! Many places you have to ask for alterations to make dishes gluten-free. Not P.F. Chang’s. The back of their menu is specifically for those that are gluten-free. I decided to go by a couple of days later and check it out. One of the things I loved was that the gluten-free didn’t taste any different from regular dishes. For me, that’s a big plus. I tend to shy away from gluten-free baked goods because they taste like cardboard. So, unless you’ve tried gluten-free baking, don’t tell me that they make something gluten-free unless you’ve tried it and liked it. You’re likely to get a mouth full of sarcasm from me.
I went to town at P.F. Chang’s and got the Gluten-Free Chocolate Dome Dessert. It was just that, a big dome of dark chocolate, so it wasn’t overly sweet, served with fresh berries and a raspberry sauce. I was in chocolate heaven. I also ordered some Gluten-Free Pork Fried Rice to go. I wasn’t disappointed at all with this experience. The pictures I took were on my phone, so they don’t even do the dishes justice. I’ll have to take my camera with me the next time I go. I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one there gluten-free. I could hear a woman at a neighboring table ordering off the gluten-free menu, too.
I ditched pizza a long time ago as part of my whole foods diet. I ordered it one night back in February when someone mentioned pizza and beer, and I just had to have some after that. It was the last time I had it because I felt like crap after eating it. Looking back, it may have been the gluten that made me ill. Or just the fact that I was having refined white flour when I had only been eating sprouted grain breads and tortillas.
One night a few weeks ago, we went to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery after going to a friend’s birthday. I was already feeling a bit off, not realizing at
the time that some vodkas have gluten in them, and I had a cup of Electric Lemonade at the party. I didn’t even finish it and had water after that because I thought it was the heat making me sick. I was perusing the menu, getting ready to figure out what I could alter to make gluten-free when I spotted right there in big bold letters Gluten-Free Thin Crust Pizza. I immediately got excited, only to have that excitement dashed when our server came to the table and told us they were out of the gluten-free pizza. She told me they would have more the next day. So the next day I tried to get one for take-out, but they were still out. Several days later, I tried again. Third time was the charm. I ordered one with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, and black olives, along with a
Redbridge beer. Redbridge is gluten-free and made from sorghum. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it other than disappointment. One of my uncles has been telling me about Bard’s Beer for months, which is also gluten-free and made from sorghum. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted like beer, but with a hint of sweetness. The pizza crust also had a hint of sweetness. That’s another thing, gluten-free things tend to be sweetened so they don’t taste like cardboard. I can see why they do it, but I really don’t like all that sugar, so the pizza and beer won’t be a regular thing, just a once-in-a-while thing. The picture of the pizza is actually the picture I took when Caity was in town and we took her there for dinner her first night. She’s been gluten-free for nearly a year and hasn’t had pizza since going gluten-free. That night I had bell peppers, black olives, mushrooms, fresh basil, and anchovies. The anchovies weren’t such a good call because the veggies weren’t enough to balance it out. BJ’s seems to have changed their website since I last checked it out. They used to have a gluten-free pdf on there that seems to be gone now.
I think the next part of my adventure will be trying a sandwich at Jason’s Deli now that they have gluten-free bread, and gluten-free pasta at Olive Garden. I’d love to go to Carraba’s. I like them better than Olive Garden, but their gluten-free menu doesn’t include pasta and there is high potential for cross-contamination if you order a grill item. I’d give them a C for an attempt to provide gluten-free options, but an F in their carrying out of it. If they truly want gluten-free people they’ll need to add a pasta and have a gluten-free area in the kitchen to make sure there is no cross-contamination. I’ve also read that Maggiano’s does gluten-free pasta and dishes with a dedicated gluten-free area in their kitchen. The information is not on their website. I had to dig through people’s blogs online to find the information. We don’t have one here, but there is one in Cincinnati, which we plan on trying the next time I go up there for a weekend.